Juvenile Law Center filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court of the United States in support of Savana Redding, a thirteen-year-old middle school student who was subjected to a strip search at school. School administrators had received a tip from another student that Savana had brought prescription-strength ibuprofen to school. In addition to searching her personal belongings, the school also conducted a strip search of Savana. No drugs were found under Savana’s clothing or on her person.
Juvenile Law Center urged the Supreme Court to affirm the decision of the 9th Circuit that the strip search violated Savana’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches. Juvenile Law Center’s brief emphasized that the trauma inflicted on children by strip searches far outweighs the benefit to the school in locating ibuprofen. The brief underscored that the Supreme Court, recognizing the unique vulnerability of children, has consistently ensured that children are protected—not harmed—by the constitutional rules applied to them. Juvenile Law Center also argued that the type of strip search Savana experienced violated international human rights law.
The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that the assistant principal’s reasonable suspicion that Savana was distributing contraband drugs did not justify a strip search. However, because the law regarding such searches of students was not clearly established, the Supreme Court ruled that the officials involved were protected from liability under the doctrine of qualified immunity.